Maintaining a clean and healthy environment is essential for the standard of living of future generations. Avoiding leakage of solid waste into the environment is key for the protection of land, sea, and air, including climate regulation and air quality, the health of the marine environment and the food we eat.
We are, however, facing unprecedented challenges. The growing population leads to increasing demand and need for resources. Two billion people1 globally live without formalized waste collection, with ever more environmental leakage. Within Indonesia 40 million tonnes2 of waste remain uncollected every year, leaving some 142 million people in urban areas3 facing a future without a basic waste collection, having a significant impact on public health, economy, and environment. However, Project STOP has been addressing this issue directly, partnering with cities in Southeast Asia to build sustainable waste management systems, preventing ocean plastic and environmental leakage and leading the transformation from linear to circular systems.
Project STOP Explained
Project STOP was co-founded in 2017 by Borealis, a leading global provider of advanced and sustainable polyolefin solutions and a European frontrunner in polyolefins recycling, and Systemiq, an innovation investment company and driver of system change. Project STOP’s mission is to create and implement sustainable circular waste management systems and drive transformation to a circular economy.
Working in partnership with cities, the initiative uses a “system-enabler” approach. This involves designing and implementing reliable, low-cost waste collection services, building waste sortation facilities for recyclable materials, promoting and overseeing recyclables sales, and running behavior change and beach clean-up campaigns in the communities where it operates. Additionally, the team engages with local stakeholders to improve waste system governance, foster local policy regulation, and build institutional capacity.
Project STOP has made visible progress, from developing the project approach to its implementation on the local and regional stages. This way, Projects STOP has created impact from the start, learning by doing, understanding challenges, and finding solutions day-by-day, thereby developing a concept that’s now ready to be scaled up to a larger region.
“Together with Borealis, we knew we wanted to work with governments to develop a project that resulted in permanent, measurable ocean plastic reduction,” explains Joi Danielson, Systemiq Partner – SE Asia. “Indonesia was a good fit given challenging plastic leakage rates, coupled with an ambitious and collaborative government who are open to partnering for solutions.”
Stop Waste, Go Circular: Turning the Pollution Tide and Create a Circular Economy
Project STOP’s city partnerships empowered cities to recycle more plastics, create local community benefits, and achieve zero environmental waste leakage. The first city partnership was created in 2018 with Muncar, a small coastal city in East Java. With minimal waste services, many citizens were dumping waste directly into the environment. Muncar was chosen due to the severity of this issue, with households each generating around 40 tonnes of waste and 90% of the community living without waste services[i].
The following year, the city of Pasuruan, on the north coast of East Java, became the second partner. Pasuruan’s ocean plastic leakage levels were rapidly increasing, primarily due to 95% of the city’s waste not being collected[ii]. In 2019, a third partnership was initiated in Balinese Regency of Jembrana, where around 13,200 tonnes of plastic leaks into the environment every year[iii].
“Oceans are one of the most important ecosystems on our planet, and they must be protected from potentially irreversible damages,” Danielson says. “Indonesia has ambitious plans to reduce waste volumes by 30% and control the remaining 70%, as well as reducing marine debris 70% by 2025.”
Markus Horcher, Borealis Director Sustainability & Public Affairs adds, “Our joint ambition to reduce plastic leakage by addressing it already at the source was a standout factor when selecting Indonesia.
“Since the launch of Project STOP, these locations have been helped in making vital contributions in combating this issue. We now plan to expand the project as an integrated waste and recycling solution and establish a downstream value chain for ocean-bound recycled materials. ”
Acknowledgment and Advancement
By 2022, Project STOP celebrated the major accomplishment of bringing low cost and reliable waste management services to more than 260,000 people across Muncar, Pasuruan, and Jembrana. For many residents, this is the first time that they’ve had access to waste collection services, previously having been left to dump or burn their waste themselves. In February of this year, the Muncar program was handed over to the local government and its community.
Since its inception, Project STOP has also created five waste-processing facilities, contributing to permanently preventing over 20,000 tonnes of waste – including 2,350 tonnes of plastic – from leaking into the environment. At the 2019 Adipec Awards, this environmental contribution was recognized as Project STOP was awarded the Social Contribution and Local Content Project of the Year, and have now attained financial sustainably.
From the beginning of 2022, Project STOP has expanded its activities across East Java’s entire Banyuwangi Regency. Support from local and national government, and environmental agencies, have made this possible along with Project STOP’s strategic private and public partners – the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chemicals, Borouge, Nestlé, Siegwerk, and Alliance to End Plastic Waste, as well as supporting and technical partners, SchwarzGroup and Hewlett-Packard.
- (2021). Building Robust Governance and Securing Sufficient Funding to Achieve Indonesia’s Waste Management Targets. https://www.systemiq.earth/resource-category/indonesia-waste-management-report/.
[i] Muncar – Project STOP (stopoceanplastics.com)
[ii] Pasuruan – Project STOP (stopoceanplastics.com)